The Supreme Court has further restricted federal judges’ sentencing powers, saying that police reports and other unproved evidence cannot be used to add on prison time, reports the Associated Press. The 5-3 ruling in a Massachusetts case involves the last exception to recent Supreme Court rulings banning enhanced sentences based on factors that had not come before a jury during trial.
Prof. Douglas Berman of Ohio State University’s law school said the ruling adds more confusion. The Supreme Court ruled Jan. 12 that federal sentencing guidelines violated a defendant’s constitutional rights because the guidelines required judges to make factual decisions that affect prison time, such as the amount of drugs involved in a crime or amount of money involved in fraud. “I think nearly every state has some kind of three-strikes law or recidivist sentencing provisions that rely on some judicial finding of prior conviction facts,” Berman said. “It’s inevitable we will have lots of litigation going forward.”